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April 29, 2011

The Princess Problem, or Why She's a Princess but Not Princess Kate

It's true: The new Duchess of Cambridge is NOT Princess Catherine. But things are a bit more complex than Matt Yglesias's fun flowchart shows, and she IS a princess. The complicating factor is that Britain treats two types of princesses differently: there are princesses of the blood and princesses by marriage.

Princesses of the blood are a sovereign's legitimate daughters and male-line granddaughters; they are styled Her Royal Highness Princess [name], followed by any other titles. The current princesses of the blood are Princess Alexandra of Kent (the Queen's first cousin; a male-line granddaughter of George V), Princess Anne (the Queen's daughter), Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York (Prince Andrew's daughters), and Prince Edward's daughter Louise. To make things difficult, her parents have opted to style her as the daughter of an earl, so she goes by The Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor, but legally, she's still HRH Princess Louise of Wessex. (Princess Anne's daughter, because she's female-line, is still in line for the throne but has no title, so she's just Zara Phillips.)

Princesses by marriage, on the other hand, are princesses but are NOT called Princess [name]. They are the wives of a sovereign's sons and male-line grandsons. They are styled HRH Princess [husband's name]. Example: the wife of the Queen's cousin Prince Michael of Kent is named Princess Michael of Kent. If the husband has other titles as well, the female version of those titles comes after, and in these cases, they tend to go by the other title, but "princess" is still there, legally. So Prince Edward's wife is usually called HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex, but legally, she's HRH Princess Edward Antony Richard Louis, Countess of Wessex, Viscountess Severn, etc. (Edward has lots of titles.)

An exception: The wife of the Prince of Wales gets Princess of Wales after her name as a secondary title, but she is still not Princess [name]. So Camilla is legally HRH Princess Charles Philip Arthur George, Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, etc., but she usually goes by HRH Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, because people associate "Princess of Wales" so strongly with Diana. Diana herself was never actually "Princess Diana," even though everyone called her that. When she was married, she was HRH Princess Charles etc., as above. When Prince Charles (and Prince Andrew) divorced, the Queen made a law that princesses by marriage who divorced lost the HRH. That made Prince Andrew's ex-wife just Sarah, Duchess of York, but since Charles is Prince of Wales, Diana became Diana, Princess of Wales (without the HRH). I believe that made her the only non-royal British princess ever.

So, to sum up: today's bride will usually go by HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, but legally she is HRH Princess William Arthur Philip Louis, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus, MA. (And I try to remember to include the MA, since that one's all hers.)

Posted by Kat at 06:16 PM | Comments (5)

April 28, 2011

Morning Coffee (4/28/11)

It's . . . Thursday. Yes. Geez, I'm tired.

Tonight's TV picks: The Vampire Diaries, Bones, Community, The Mentalist

Everything about the birth certificate issue has probably been said, but here's the document itself and here's the best take I've read on it.

In case you were wondering, Santorum is still making things up.

Hot this summer: Grover Cleveland.

Royal Wedding Dalek!

The idea that a teacher shouldn't write erotic romance novels under a pseudonym is completely ridiculous.

BBC1 thinks it has too much crime drama. That makes me sad, since I have a basically bottomless appetite for British mystery shows.

I kind of love cursive, personally.

Class and the Fight Against Aliens

Posted by Kat at 05:39 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2011

Review: Bumped

Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Genre: Young adult
Pages: 336
Grade: 88

Look, it's another book that comes out this week! I feel so on top of things! (If I were actually on top of things, I've had posted these reviews a week ago, but whatever.)

Bumped takes place in a dystopia (so big right now!) in which almost everyone becomes sterile around age 18, so teenagers are encouraged to have children and give them up for adoption to older couples - for pay. 16-year-old Melody has been raised by her scientist parents to be the perfect surrogate, but while she's waiting to be matched up with a partner, she discovers that she has a twin, Harmony, who was raised in a strict religious community, where teens get married young and they think pregnancy for profit is a sin. Harmony shows up on Melody's doorstep, everything changes for both of them and they have to figure out what to believe.

I thought the premise of this novel was fascinating, but it didn't quite live up to my hopes. The take on the issues was less complex than I'd hoped, and the answers provided were somewhat facile or, at times, obvious - extremism in any direction tends to end badly! Really! We had no idea! That said, it was fast-paced and compulsively readable, and McCafferty clearly had a lot of fun creating this world. It's drawn in incredible detail, which is great most of the time, but occasionally the extensive invented vocabulary throws the reader out of the story - at several points I stopped to think "What does that mean? Oh, that's clever!" rather than just reading. I must also admit that I didn't particularly warm to either Melody or Harmony, but I adored Melody's best friend Zen, who is obviously in love with her but is too short to make an acceptable partner in her conception contract. He's funny and smart and insightful and I might just have to elevate him to Literary Boyfriend status.

All that said: The ending of Bumped suggested that there will be at least one sequel, and I'm eager to read it. And I guess that's what matters, in the end.

Posted by Kat at 07:18 AM | Comments (0)

Morning Coffee (4/27/11)

Happy Wednesday! I am tired and really just want this week to be over. I hope your week is going better!

Tonight's TV Picks: Breaking In and Justified

What happened with Haley Barbour

The fascinating history of Wikipedia's "macaca" entry.

Trig birtherism completely misses the point. And is kind of gross.

The prospective new passport application is completely insane.

These ideas on how the press should cover the press are really dumb.

Presidents: They all want to be Irish.

Atlas Shrugged: not doing so well.

Homophobia in Publishing: Why It Matters

This essay on culling vs. surrender in our cultural consumption is really, really good.

Posted by Kat at 05:49 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2011

Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
Genre: Young adult
Pages: 288
Grade: 95

First, HUGE CAVEAT: I work for the author, Maureen Johnson. I had nothing to do with this book, but obviously I am completely biased. That said . . .

I LOVE THIS BOOK and it was released today and you all should read it. Ahem. This is a sequel to 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and while you could certainly enjoy LLBE on its own, you'd get more out of it if you read 13LBE first. And that one's great too, so why not? Anyway. Briefly: In the first book, the main character, Ginny, was sent by her missing aunt on a sort of scavenger hunt through Europe, where she had all sorts of adventures and discovered family secrets and met a boy and learned a lot about herself. But her backpack containing the envelopes that instructed her along her journey was stolen when she had only one envelope left, so she always felt like her journey was unfinished.

This new book starts when Ginny is contacted by a mysterious person who has found the envelopes, and she goes back to Europe to figure out who he is and what the last envelope is telling her to do, and also to figure out the status of her relationship-ish thing with the boy she met on her previous trip. So she has more adventures, some of them terrifying, and learns a lot about herself and other people, and makes some sort of peace with some of the difficult things she's gone through. And let me just take a moment to mention how impressed I am with Ginny, because she's a regular girl, not a superhero or spy or trained wunderkind, but she handles all the crazy stuff that's thrown on her and goes on this trip alone without having any idea where she's going, or any sort of plan, and dear Lord, as anyone who's traveled with me could tell you, I COULD NEVER EVER DO THAT.

Really, though, this book has it all: mystery and action and heartbreak and grief and self-actualization. And Christmas in London - with a dinner from Harrods - and New Year's in Ireland and other gallivanting around Europe. And humor! Did I mention that it's FUNNY? (If you've read Johnson at all, I probably did not need to specifically mention that.) And there's an awesome uncle, and a bunch of flawed but real and compelling characters, including a guy who may be evil. Or may be the hero. Or may be both. In any case, he banters, and he's interesting, and maybe-evil bantery heroes are really my favorites. And at the heart of it all is Ginny, a strong heroine who isn't annoyingly perfect, and is just trying to figure herself out in the midst of her wacky but dire circumstances.

Posted by Kat at 06:57 PM | Comments (0)

Morning Coffee (4/26/11)

Happy Tuesday! The cat is very committed to making sure I get up on time this week.

Tonight's TV pick: Body of Proof

Haley Barbour is not running for president.

Reconsidering the Feminism of Joss Whedon

Library cards are awesome.

This explanation of satisfying literary romance is really good.

Aw, lawmakers in love.

This is spot on: How American showrunners would remake Doctor Who

The Sununus and the Tea Party

Jake Tapper has a book coming out. And, um, so does Lauren Graham. I am wary about the latter.

A good read on sex and YA fiction.

iPads in restaurants? Yes, PLEASE.

The question of gender balance and college admissions is really quite complex.

Posted by Kat at 05:53 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2011

Morning Coffee (4/25/11)

Good morning, and to those of you still here, thank you for your patience! My move is winding down, although I still have a ton of unpacking to do, so blogging should get back to something resembling normal this week. Warning: For the next few days, some of the Morning Coffee links will be old as I catch up on things I bookmarked over the past few weeks.

Tonight's TV Picks: Gossip Girl

This is awesome: an Oregon lawmaker got his colleagues to rick roll themselves.

A history of steampunk

Royal wedding custom slideshow! AND an official app focused on seven historical royal weddings. Meanwhile, America celebrates with doughnuts.

Christine Johnson has announced an exciting-sounding new book.

This review does a good job of explaining my issues with Extreme Couponing.

This hilarious take on Ulysses is right on.

Fun: unsolved codes and ciphers.

Forbes Fictional Fifteen

Posted by Kat at 05:55 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Sorry for the long silence. My move is winding down so things should be getting back to normal this week. In the meantime, how about some Easter goodies?

The Dread Pirate Bunny Cake:

The Dread Pirate Bunny Cake

Easter egg cookies!

Easter Egg Cookies!

Posted by Kat at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2011

Service Interruption

Hello! Morning Coffee is going to be on hiatus for a few days while I'm packing and moving and traveling. I'll try to keep up with Book of the Month and other posts as time allows, and regular blogging will resume sometime next week. Thanks for understanding!

Posted by Kat at 08:47 AM | Comments (1)

April 13, 2011

Guest Post: I Heart Property Law and Vampires Should Too

Hi. I'm Christine, and I love property law. (Kate is probably rolling her eyes right now. I might sometimes bug her about it. "But how can Isobel get into foreclosures? The bank still owns them. Does it have to be owned by a person? She still hasn't been invited in by anyone who has a right to be there in any capacity!" *insert Kate's groan*)

So as you might imagine, this week's episode made me VERY HAPPY. It answered a question I've been bugging Kate about since I started watching: who the hell owns the Salvatore Boardinghouse? The boys are dead, so they can't unless they've been wandering around compelling the appropriate authorities to give them legal documentation that makes them legally exist. It's also possible that Zach left them the house in his will, but no one knows he's dead, right? HOW DOES THAT WORK?

[Disclaimers: First, I know I'm being ridiculous. Just go with it. Second, I am not yet licensed so cannot give legal advice. Always seek qualified legal advice when transacting property transfers with your vampire boyfriends.]

Aaaaanyway, last Thursday on The Vampire Diaries:

Elena & Stefan: Blah blah dead mother blah.
Damon: Look! I have brought LEGAL DOCUMENTATION into the PLOT. *eyebrow action*
Christine: Swoooooon.
Stefan: Here -
Christine: Hold on. I need my smelling salts. *rustle, rustle* Right! Carry on.
Stefan: Here is the deed to our house, which is currently in Zach's name, but the script says we're pretending that we now own it.
~five minutes later~
Christine: Boys? Don't forget to file a gift tax return.

I think about the Vampire Invite Issue probably more than is healthy. I can't help myself. It's not unclear, really; it's just that I keep beating it down and beating it down, looking for an underlying pattern (nerd fun), and the show is a little inconsistent. (I love you, Show!)

Here's my issue in a nutshell: is it ownership or occupancy?

At first it seems to be merely occupancy. Jenna can invite vampires into the Gilbert house. Tyler invites Katherine into the Lockwood house (though I wonder if his mother inherited the house, or he did? Or some combination of both? Inquiring minds want to know.).

But last week John invited Isobel into the Gilbert house. As far as we know, John is just a guest at there. How does that work? I am assuming, since John once said that he was the estate's trustee, that the house is in trust for the kids, in which case the deed is probably in John's name as trustee. Jenna can live there with Jeremy and Elena, but she doesn't have any ownership interest in it, and Jeremy and Elena are beneficiaries of the trust but not, as of yet, owners of the trust property. If the invites work by occupancy, then sure, Jenna, Jeremy, and Elena should all be able to invite vampires in.

BUT. John doesn't live there, and he doesn't have any individual ownership interest in the house (that we know of- he could have some sort of contingent interest from his brother's will if Jeremy and Elena predecease him, but that's stretching kind of far even for me, isn't it?). But he can issue invites? Does this mean that guests can issue invites? Bonnie spends most of her time at the Gilbert place, too. Can she issue invites? If, on the other hand, the estate is not in trust, but John is only guardian of it (terminology is important, Show), then he has no ownership interest at all, in any capacity.

NOT TO MENTION that if John, who only has ownership in his role as trustee of the estate which actually owns the property, can invite people in, then why can Isobel get into foreclosures, which are also owned by a non-human entity? She's never invited in by a representative of the bank. Do banks not count?

Which brings me to apartments: apartments are still owned by someone. Sometimes it's a group of investors, but sometimes it's an individual. When an apartment is leased out, there's no real issue- traditionally the lessee (i.e. the person renting) has exclusive control over the space (though that can be changed by contract, and usually is). Certainly a person who is renting an apartment can issue invites, as they have some degree of control over the premises. (I'm still confused about why Logan couldn't get into his apartment after he turned, but we'll leave that alone.)

When the Manwitches die, Damon can get into their apartment, which is presumably owned by someone else, possibly even a business entity, like a bank in the case of foreclosures. So actually, I suppose that makes sense, as long as we're thinking about occupancy, not ownership.

BUT. This week two things happened to make me doubt that: Uncle John as mentioned above, and the boys giving Elena the deed to the house. If invites work as I suspect they do, Elena moving in to the house should be enough. Perhaps they're just taking every possible precaution. Perhaps I need a hobby. Who can say?

Thank you for bearing with me,


PS- I know I'm probably forgetting loads of examples. I did this from memory, because I'm supposed to be studying for finals, not watching TVD for a more informed essay. Bummer, right?

PPS- Stores and restaurants, while privately owned, are open to the public during certain advertised hours, which is an implied invite to everyone, presumably including handsome vampires who have run out of hoodies and black v-necks and need to go to the mall.

PPPS- Which brings me to another question: can invites be implied? If you say, "the party's through there" and point at the backyard, why doesn't that count? If it doesn't, then vampire law is fairly formalistic and relies on magic words, not just intent, which makes it EVEN MORE MYSTIFYING.

PPPPS- I also wonder why the boys didn't each give Elena, say, a 1/40 undivided interest in their house. They could use their annual exclusions AND get a minority interest discount AND she'd still have 100% right to occupy the whole house as a tenant-in-common, as long as she didn't try to prevent them from occupying the house also. I guess that wouldn't come across very well on screen.

PPPPPS- To the two of you who have gotten this far: I love you. Clearly we are meant to be friends.

Posted by Kat at 11:36 PM | Comments (10)

Morning Coffee (4/13/11)

Happy Wednesday! It's my last day of work before moving, so I keep thinking it's Friday, but it's not. Anyway!

Tonight's TV Picks: A new show called Happy Endings premieres on ABC, and reviews are wildly mixed, so I figure I'll give it a try. Also: Justified and Breaking In, which I still need to review, huh?

Gary Johnson is going to make a big announcement in New Hampshire. Gee, I wonder what that could be?

In a move that seems to have surprised practically everyone, including those of us who sell the things, Cisco has killed the Flip camcorder line.

A school in Chicago has banned homemade lunches. I went to a private school that didn't allow them, but it seems different for public.

It makes me happy that the Anything Goes revival is getting so many great reviews. I am determined to see it. This DVD sounds interesting too.

The 10 Most Inexplicable Fictional Games

Before there was Photoshop: 20 Classic Pin-Up Girls, in their original and painted forms.

Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet? I guess that makes sense.

Why well-born Brits often have hyphenated names

A philosophical defense of blogging. Hey, Quine!

Why Aren't You Married Yet?

China has banned fiction about time travel.

Posted by Kat at 07:33 AM | Comments (1)

April 12, 2011

Demon's Lexicon Discussion: Chapter Four

Here we go to chapter four! And if you've already read both books, you can read a new excerpt from The Demon's Surrender here. Enjoy!

Chapter Title: "The Goblin Market"

Oh, Alan, making Nick go to school even though he doesn't want to, and sacrificing his own education to support the family even though he wants to be in school. It's things like this that really show that Alan is the parent in this situation. (But I really hope he gets to go to college eventually.) And then Alan gets Nick a sword for his birthday. How adorable, in a slightly terrifying way!

One of the things I love about this series is that Alan is a young male feminist, and we get one of the wonderful little moments that show that in this chapter, when he's lecturing Nick about "speaking of women with respect."

What do you think of the mystery behind Alan's disappearance at Christmas the year before? And it seems Nick's line for girls he'll tolerate is drawn at "girls who make Alan lie to him." Interesting.

We learn some history of the Goblin Market in this chapter - and I, for once, would be happy to read an entire book of history of the Goblin Market - and one thing we learn is that it's named for a Christina Rossetti poem, which you can read here.

This particular Goblin Market is in Tiverton, partially because of the Prayer Book Rebellion. Among other issues, this dealt with languages and which languages were allowed for worship. Are there hints of the demons having to use the humans' bodies and voices in the story of the Cornish being forced to pray in English? (I am stretching things a bit, I know.) Also, the "Kill all the gentlemen" slogan has echoes of the "Kill them all" plan in the book.

Nick drops a few more hints here about maybe having a little magic - "If people had known Nick's mother was a magician, if they had known how Nick's talisman hurt him, they would have called it magic." Do you think Nick's secretly a magician? Does he just suspect? Does anyone else know?

Nick likes to think that he can see through pretense, and here he points out both that the Market people are likely to have some magic, much as they deny it, and that the Market is about business as much as it's about helping people. Personally, I'm glad, because the economy and sociology of the Market is fascinating.

At the end of the chapter we meet Merris. What do you think of her? I love the line "Her currency was power," and that the most powerful person around happens to be a woman.

And then at the VERY end of the chapter we meet Sin, who is one of my favorites. We'll meet her properly in the next chapter, but for now it's worth noting that Mae's reaction to Sin is positive, and that Nick is pleased by this.

Favorite Quotes:

"Remember, just be yourself and everyone will love you!" - Alan to Nick

"[Nick] threw out the words like a challenge. He'd found that was the best way to start things, since it always ended up that way in the end."

"Alan put his thin shoulder supportively behind Nick's and did not say a word, which was how Nick liked things best."

"People were good at being blind."

"No wonder Alan's little crush was so persistent. Nick hadn't realized [Mae] was a big nerd."

"Do demons have disco fever?" - Jamie

Posted by Kat at 07:35 PM | Comments (1)

Song of the Day: Taylor Swift does "White Blank Page"

I'm a huge fan of both Taylor Swift and Mumford & Sons, but even I was a little skeptical of Taylor Swift COVERING Mumford & Sons. But it's actually pretty good!

Posted by Kat at 07:25 AM | Comments (0)

Morning Coffee (4/12/11)

I keep thinking it's at least Wednesday, but no, it's only Tuesday.

Tonight's TV Picks: The Good Wife and Body of Proof

Mitt Romney is officially running. With a logo that looks like Aquafresh and a slogan that Kerry used in 2004, this can't possibly end poorly.

The Orange Prize shortlist is out! I must admit I have read none of these books (yet).

Crime is wrong, and all, but this is the most awesome thing ever: a real-life jewelry store heist based on a Sherlock Holmes story.

Good news: Tastykake found a buyer.

Richard Castle has a shiny new site.

This is not the best way to tamp down rumors, FBI.

Oh, NO: 42% of college graduates never read another book.

I was going to say something about Katie Roiphe but I don't even want to link to her thing. Let's just say I'm Team Waldman all the way.

John Lennon's letters will be published.

These photographs of girls and their bedrooms are fascinating.

Gossip Girl fans! Here's a rather exciting trailer for the rest of the season.

I know we're past the shutdown thing, but you should read Jamelle Bouie's take anyway. Plus, it's his birthday. Happy birthday, Jamelle!

Posted by Kat at 06:58 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2011

Demon's Lexicon Song of the Day: "The Moth"

Here's another song from Sarah Rees Brennan's playlist for the book . . .

Posted by Kat at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)

Morning Coffee (4/11/11)

Good morning! Monday again. I'm only working three days again, and then I'm finally moving, and also doing some traveling in the middle of it. So . . . I'm not sure what posts will look like for the next two weeks, but I'll keep up as best I can.

Tonight's TV Picks: Castle, The Chicago Code, HIMYM, Being Human

This letter by Donald Trump in the Times is completely ridiculous.

Extremely important chocolate bunny lawsuit.

When I first read this, I thought they were saying Hugh Jackman might be the prince in the Kristen Stewart Snow White, which sounded . . . mismatched. But no, the huntsman. I guess that works.

Cat and Dolphin Make Friends

Famous scifi scenes made out of peeps.


The first British recession

There is hope for civilization: Christie and Fleming are still Britain's top-earning crime writers.

I will try to reserve judgment on the Wrinkle in Time graphic novel until I actually see it.

Hee: What if every show was on Showtime?

Teenage Girls Who Can Kill You Whenever They Feel Like It

Why do people think it would be good to have no parking law enforcement?

Posted by Kat at 07:32 AM | Comments (1)

April 10, 2011

Time for this week's TV news!

Pirates! Families of PIs! Excitement of all sorts! Read about it in my column at TheTelevixen.

Posted by Kat at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2011

Demon's Lexicon Discussion: Chapter Three

Onward! To chapter three we go!

Chapter Title: "The Hidden Girl"

Right at the beginning of this chapter, Nick matter-of-factly tells us that he always knew his mother didn't like him, and that it was always his brother's job to take care of him. Oh, poor boys. My heart breaks for them both. Theories as to why Mum doesn't like Nick?

And then we learn about the night when their dad died - which is the night Alan gave away his talisman (to Nick) and the night Alan's leg got hurt. It's sad, of course, and also shows a terrifying amount of responsibility given to little 11-year-old Alan. It's amazing they're still alive at all.

Nick calls Alan his "stupid crippled brother" but I have to think it's a sign of affection, right? Right? I mean, clearly he wants his brother to stay safe . . .

The messenger says that Black Arthur wants "it" back. Nick says "it" is a charm. What do you think it does? Why would Olivia die if she lost it?

Nick tells us that Alan lies, which means that Alan probably lies to Nick, as well. Do you think he's lying about his reasons for leaving, or whether he plans to stay?

Any theories about Marie, the girl in the hidden picture?

Favorite Quotes:

"He had to be better than anyone he could imagine."

"Don't pretend you didn't want to impress her with how magically attentive to her needs you could be." - Nick

"This is different. This is you." - Nick to Alan

Posted by Kat at 06:10 PM | Comments (1)

Songs of the Day: Sixteen

My friend Megan turns sixteen today, so I thought I'd do a song of the day for her: one of those sixteenth birthday songs, like "Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen" or "Sixteen Candles." And then I listened to them and realized that they're all romantic AND also kind of creepy and paternalistic, which I didn't notice so much when I was a kid. But I kind of love them anyway. So here they are, and let us marvel at their sweet grossness together.

Please note how Ringo subtly changes the lyrics to make it even creepier:

Posted by Kat at 10:59 AM | Comments (1)

April 08, 2011

Morning Coffee (4/8/11)

Happy Friday! Will the government shut down? Maybe!

Tonight's TV Picks: CHAOS and Blue Bloods

10 Teen Books for Adult Readers

Ta-Nehisi Coates gets the Cathie Black situation right here.

Lost Dr. Seuss stories will be published!

Where are religious conservatives when the poor need help?

Apparently this is the ultimate Canadian family.

Natalie Portman's father wrote a fertility thriller. Of course he did.

When You May Wear a Button-Down Shirt

235 Pixelated Star Trek Characters. Awesome.

Posted by Kat at 07:10 AM | Comments (1)

April 07, 2011

Get ready for tonight's Bones . . .

by refreshing your memory with my recap of "The Blackout in the Blizzard," over at TheTelevixen.

It's finally getting to be spring in most of North America, but we're back to winter with the most recent episode of Bones! A blizzard means that Booth and Brennan spend most of the episode stuck in an elevator, which clearly isn't symbolic of anything at all...

Posted by Kat at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)

Morning Coffee (4/7/11)

Thursday! I'm running late, so this will be quick. Quick like a bunny!

Tonight's TV Picks: Vampire Diaries is finally back! Also: Bones and The Mentalist.

Financial aid via Facebook? I am skeptical, but will wait for my dad's expert opinion.

This campaign is so much fun already.

How Paul Ryan became Honest Paul.

Mad Men: coming to Netflix Instant in July.

Oregon State House rick rolls itself.

This is the most terrifying online psychology test ever.

Here, this will make you feel better.

Posted by Kat at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2011

Demon's Lexicon Discussion: Chapter Two

(No one has responded about chapter one yet, but onward I press, full of blind optimism!)

If you've finished chapter two, keep reading . . .

Chapter Title: "Demon's Mark"

We started learning about this in chapter one, but in this chapter we learn more about Nick and Alan's division of labor. Alan cooks and makes nice with the outside world. Nick does the Mr. Fix-It thing and gets rid of bodies. They both kill things, but Nick likes swords and Alan likes guns. This splitting of duties is such a normal family thing, but the actual duties in question are a wonderful mix of the mundane and the fantastical. I love it. (Also, I would cook for Nick any day if he would fix things around my house.)

In this chapter, we also learn a little more about how the world is set up: demons and magicians and Circles. It's helpful that the boys are explaining things to Mae and Jamie, of course, but I like that it's not too much of an infodump, and there's still stuff to figure out. One big thing that's not explained is why the Circles are after the Ryves family. Theories?

When Nick tells the Crawfords some awful things about demons, Mae protests that he isn't helping. Nick: "I am helping. I'm telling you the truth." Nick is in favor of all truth, all the time - except he also wants to hide his real life from his schoolmates. Interesting.

The first chapter and a half look like we're being set up for one type of plot: people come to Our Heroes in distress and must be saved. But then Mae and Jamie (and us) get the dire news - Jamie can't be saved. Marked for death. That's it. Game over. From this, we learn that a) this story is not going exactly where we expected and b) this book is Pulling. No. Punches.

And then, oh, poor Alan, Alan of my heart, gets demon-marked as well, because he'd given his talisman to Mae. This gives Nick yet another reason to resent the Crawfords, but it also gives him and Mae something in common, as they both want to save their brothers. It will be interesting to see if and how he reconciles that.

Favorite Quotes:

"Of course Nick was expected to get rid of the body."

"She was just the type to like them tall, dark, and carrying a lethal weapon."

"Parents, bosses, animals, and children, they all liked Alan.
Girls liked Nick. He felt it was a fair trade."

"Alan, however, could never be stopped from talking by any power of God or Nick."

"Many people think I'm a blueberry scone." - Nick

"The doomed ones always upset Alan."

"Does mist generally strike in this house? Is it attack mist?" - Jamie

Posted by Kat at 09:18 PM | Comments (1)

TV Trailer: Teen Wolf

I haven't found an embeddable version, but you should head over here and watch the three-minute trailer for the MTV show that will be starting in June. I haven't seen the original, but I'm kind of excited about this. I mean, just look at that wee baby werewolf with his floppy hair! And TYLER HOECHLIN. I love Tyler Hoechlin. (And I never really noticed that he sort of looks like Michael Trevino until he was being all big-brother-wolfy here and I had to do a double-take.)

Posted by Kat at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)

Morning Coffee (4/6/11)

Good morning! Update: I still hate packing, in case you were wondering.

Tonight's TV Picks: It's the premiere of Breaking In, the new Christian Slater show that will undoubtedly just make me miss The Forgotten. Also: Justified and Mr. Sunshine.

Sad: An arsonist has destroyed costumes from British TV and movies, including Downton Abbey and The King's Speech.


What can the font President Obama is using tell us about his reelection campaign? A lot, actually.

No one rigs an election quite like Kazakhstan.

The Queen is getting a flotilla for her Jubilee. Whee!

News from mummies: Ancient Egypt had a lot of heart disease.

Killer unicorn fans! Get Diana Peterfreund's novella for 99 cents.

Awesome: From Here to Eternity, uncensored.

Apparently Disney is making an animated short about a ridiculously cute version of the Loch Ness Monster.

Posted by Kat at 06:52 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2011

Demon's Lexicon: The Statue That Looks Like a Knife

On the whole, Nick liked Exeter. There was a statue on the high street that reminded him of a knife,
and he was learning to map the city out from that point.

- Chapter One, The Demon's Lexicon

Here's Nick's statue:

It is, of course, a Riddle, not a knife, and it has riddles from the Exeter Book on it. And what does this tell us about Nick? When he looks at riddles, at things he can't understand, what he sees is a knife: a weapon, something that will allow him to tear the problem apart with one deadly thrust. Nick, I think, would have made short work of the Gordian knot, not because he would see through the puzzle, but because he would barely recognize that a puzzle existed. "Why are all these people standing around nattering about how to untie the ox-cart?" he might ask. "Just cut the thing loose."

Posted by Kat at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

Song of the Day: "Don't Turn Out the Lights"

I'm taking a break from my book-of-the-month themed songs for the first single from the new supergroup NKOTBSB. Yes, that's New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys. HEE. (Also, I wonder how Donnie Wahlberg feels about this musical resurgence happening right when he finally has a successful TV show?)

Posted by Kat at 07:00 AM | Comments (1)

Morning Coffee (4/5/11)

Good morning! UConn won! I'm not much of a basketball fan, but I'm from CT, so, you know, yay!

Tonight's TV Picks: The series finale (alas) of Lights Out. Also: The Good Wife and Body of Proof.

VP Biden cemented his position as basically My Favorite Ever by speaking out against sexual violence at UNH yesterday. Two favorite quotes: "No means no even if you said yes at first and you changed your mind." "You want to measure your manhood, measure it by the gumption you have to speak up."

President Obama kicked off his re-election campaign yesterday. What you need to read, of course, is John Dickerson's take.

The Hunger Games has found its Peeta and Gale: Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. The Internet is pretty upset. I am enthusiastic about Hutcherson and have no opinion about Hemsworth. Also, TWoP has some good ideas for the minor characters.

Dear Slate, please stop encouraging people to hit on retail employees who HAVE to be polite and generally can't escape.

Dear Gov. LePage, when even your own GOP senators are telling you to tone it down, you might want to rethink some things.

This is a fascinating takedown of what sounds like a really infuriating book about literature.

I haven't had a chance to read this all yet, but if you're interested in Sandra Lee, don't miss the new NYMag profile.

I agree with Yglesias that TV would be better if the business model supported shows knowing they had a set number of seasons/episodes in advance.

Deanna Raybourn on supposedly-sympathetic characters she hates. Man, I thought I was the only one who hated Helen Burns.

An introduction to pulp fiction in Europe before 1914

Easter candy dessert taco plate Uh . . . wow.

The Royal Wedding in Legos

Posted by Kat at 06:30 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2011

Demon's Lexicon Discussion: Chapter One

Welcome to our first discussion thread! As you can see, I gave up my idea of lumping chapters together and decided to go through one at a time, mostly so the posts wouldn't get too long and also so you all can read them at your own pace if/when you get the book. I'll be posting one chapter about every other day. I've got some thoughts and questions first, and then my favorite quotes from the chapter. Feel free to respond to what I've said and/or jump in with your own opinions!

Chapter Title: "Ravens in the Kitchen"

We jump right into the action and are expected to keep up, even though we're in a somewhat unfamiliar world. I know that some readers like this sort of beginning, while others, especially those who don't read much fantasy, would rather have the world set up and explained first. Personally, I'm somewhere in the middle - this beginning left me a little confused but a lot intrigued, and I ended up really liking the fact that I had the chance to figure out the world for myself as I read. How about you?

Another thing we get right away is the relationship between Ryves brothers Nick and Alan. They banter, even as they're fighting demonic ravens, and their banter is obviously hiding So Many Feelings that they may or may not acknowledge. What do you think of the brothers so far? Do you have a favorite?

Meanwhile, Nick and Alan's Mum is certainly . . . mysterious. And not very motherly. She does little to endear herself to the reader here, and since we're in Nick's head, that's obviously a reflection of how he sees her. Any theories on what's going on with her?

And then, of course, we meet another pair of siblings: Mae and Jamie Crawford. They're adorable, and naive, but Mae, at least, is brave - perhaps to a fault. They seem to think they need help with something "occult," but Nick doesn't really believe that they know what that means. His first impression of them is certainly not very positive, but he agrees to help - for Alan.

Favorite Quotes:

"The pipe under the kitchen sink was leaking again. It wouldn't have been so bad, except that Nick kept his favorite sword under the sink."

"'If we start selling my body to old ladies now,' Nick said, 'can I quit school?'"

"Aristotle can bite me." - Nick

"Let's not argue with the crazy person holding the enormous sword!" - Jamie

"My life was going to flash before my eyes, but it decided to hide behind my eyes and quake with terror instead." - Jamie


Posted by Kat at 08:56 PM | Comments (1)

Green Lantern Footage from WonderCon

I'm not particularly a fan or anything, but this has even me intrigued...

Posted by Kat at 07:53 AM | Comments (0)

Morning Coffee (4/4/11)

Ah, Monday, we meet again.

Tonight's TV Picks: Castle, Being Human, Make It or Break It

Country music seems to have a lot of different award shows, but anyway, the Academy of Country Music Awards were last night and my darling Taylor Swift won Entertainer of the Year. Zap2it has a gallery of the best and worst of the award show here. There were a lot of rather unexpected people there. Huh. And the Jake Gyllenhaal "joke" was why I can't watch country music award shows, even though I like a lot of country music.

I'm not usually an audiobook fan, but this teaser for City of Fallen Angels has me convinced to try this one. In other Cassie Clare-adjacent news, Lily Collins as Snow White? Sure. Meanwhile, it should surprise absolutely no one that someone's doing a Sleeping Beauty remake, too.

Gone with the Wind is the original post-apocalyptic epic

No no no no no please no.

Are mermaids the new vampires? Or maybe zombies were the new vampires and mermaids are the new zombies? Whatever.

Oh look, a dress made of Little Golden Books.

Wow. Mobbed DOES have everything we hate in one place.

I know I'm a nerd, but I am SO EXCITED for How the States Got Their Shapes.

Oh, Real America...

What do people read on the subway?

Posted by Kat at 06:52 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2011

Demon's Lexicon Song of the Day: "The Little Things"

Author Sarah Rees Brennan put together a soundtrack for her book, so I'll be pulling my songs of the day from that list this month. First up: "The Little Things" by Danny Elfman. It looks like this is from the soundtrack of a movie I haven't seen, but it seems to involve James McAvoy, so I should probably give it a try.

Posted by Kat at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

TV news for April 3!

Watch me try to avoid passing along April Fool's jokes as fact in this week's Caffeine column.

Posted by Kat at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2011

Demon's Lexicon: First Lines Game!

I originally picked up this book because I had found the author on Twitter via other authors I like, and enjoyed her tweets. Honestly, I wasn't sure about the premise of the book starting out, but it grabbed me in the first paragraph:

The pipe under the sink was leaking again. It wouldn't have been so bad, except that Nick kept his favorite sword under the sink.
I was enthralled from that moment on. The mention of a "favorite sword" is obviously a hook to catch the reader's attention, but it goes deeper: the juxtaposition of a leaky sink and a sword sets the tone for the rest of the book, of fantasy that is very much grounded in the real world, and the humor of the lines is an excellent preview of what is to come.

In celebration of awesome first lines, I have put together a little game for you. Here are memorable first lines from 20 books that I adore. How many can you identify? I will keep comments screened; you have until the end of the month or until someone gets all of them to figure it out. (And if you tell me your guesses, I'll tell you which ones you have right, so you can keep working on the others. And if you guess five and then think of a sixth later, send it along. Not a one-shot deal!) Whoever gets the most correct gets a prize. Enjoy!

HINT: No two are by the same author. Most, but not quite all, are fiction.

1. "Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof."

2. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

3. "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

4. "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense."

5. "He has forgotten something, he knows that for sure when he wakes up. Something he dreamt during the night. Something he ought to remember."

6. "It's not that I don't like people. It's just that when I'm in the company of others - even my nearest and dearest - there always comes a moment when I'd rather be reading a book."

7. "'Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents,' grumbled Jo, lying on the rug."

8. "Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were."

9. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

10. "I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him."

11. "When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It was true, too."

12. "August came in, that summer of 1141, tawny as a lion and somnolent and purring as a hearthside cat."

13. "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

14. "The Fossil sisters lived in the Cromwell Road. At that end of it which is farthest away from the Brompton Road, and yet sufficiently near it so one could be taken to look at the dolls' houses in the Victoria and Albert every wet day. If the weather were not too wet, one was expected to 'save the penny and walk.'"

15. "The first day of term has a flavour that is all its own; a whiff of lazy days behind and a foretaste of the busy future. The essential thing, for a village schoolmistress on such a day, is to get up early."

16. "Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs."

17. "When Lady Ann Sercomb married George Smiley towards the end of the war she described him to her astonished Mayfair friends as breathtakingly ordinary."

18. "It was a dark and stormy night." (This is a trick question, as there are at least two books that start that way. If you know me, you'll know which one I mean.)

19. "In my time I have been called many things: sister, lover, priestess, wise-woman, queen."

20. "Miss Alexia Tarabotti was not enjoying her evening. Private balls were never more than middling amusements for spinsters, and Miss Tarabotti was not the kind of spinster who could garner even that much pleasure from the event. To put the pudding in the puff: she had retreated to the library, her favorite sanctuary in any house, only to happen upon an unexpected vampire."

Posted by Kat at 07:30 AM | Comments (0)

Introducing the Book of the Month!

Welcome to the first of our Book of the Month series. Basically, I'm going to pick a book I love each month and put up a bunch of posts trying to get you to read it, too. This month's book is The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. I've given you a link to Amazon there; you can also of course find it at other bookstores, your local library, or in a variety of (legal!) ebook formats. And here are the kinds of posts you can expect:

Chapter-Based Discussion Posts We'll discuss certain chapters each week (behind a cut on the main page for spoilers) - I'll put up a post with my thoughts on the designated chapters each Monday, and I encourage you to respond and discuss amongst yourselves in the comments. Here's the schedule:

April 4: Chapters 1-4
April 11: Chapters 5-8
April 18: Chapters 9-12
April 25: Chapters 13-17
(Those are just the dates on which I'll start the discussion; I figure it can last all week if there's interest.)

Topical Posts I'll post my thoughts on certain themes, scenes, etc. If there's a particular topic on which you want my opinion, or something you want me to research, let me know and I'll do my best to oblige.

Music The author released a list of songs she sees as the "soundtrack" for the novel, so I'll be looking them up and posting them for your listening pleasure.

And more! Look for an interview with Sarah Rees Brennan, a few guest posts, and whatever else I come up with! (If you've already read the book and are interested in writing a guest post, let me know!)

I can't promise a post EVERY day, but there should be posts MOST days. I'm excited about this new project, and I hope you all enjoy it! And please, read the book!

Posted by Kat at 07:30 AM | Comments (0)

Morning Coffee (4/1/11)

Happy April! Look, a snowstorm! I actually don't have time for a proper Morning Coffee today because I have to leave for work early so I can take my time in the snow, so I will just tell you to BE ON YOUR GUARD. It is April 1. Trust no one.

Oh, and I will also tell you that the new CBS show CHAOS starts tonight. Rogue spies! Whee!

Posted by Kat at 06:30 AM | Comments (0)

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